Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday is App Day! PowerTeacher

As I have written in previous posts, I worked hard this year to go as paperless as possible in the classroom with planning and conferring.  I also have gone almost entirely paperless with grading - no more gradebook binder to cart around.  To go paperless with grading, I use charts, rubrics, and tables I create using Word and save in my Dropbox or Evernote so I have access to it at all times.  In addition, I downloaded the free PowerTeacher app by Pearson School Systems for the iPad.  Since my school district uses PowerSchool, all the information syncs automatically with the information in the PowerSchool database into the PowerTeacher app.  All I had to do was type in my school district, school name, my name, and password and it automatically sets up my class roster with names and photos of the students, parent contact information, and birthday information.
Through PowerTeacher, you are able to personalize your grade book by naming assignment categories and color coding the categories.  You can choose if you want to use points, percent, or letter grade for each grade.  You can also write in comments along with the grades - this part I love since anecdotal notes mean more to me personally than just a letter or number.  If you write a comment along with the grade, a little "C" appears next to the grade to remind you that you wrote a comment.  When you input grades, you can check off if students are exempt, absent, or late with the assignment.

The app does have its downfalls, but overall it is a helpful tool to organize grades online.  The downfalls are: you can only access it via your iPad or your school computer if your school as PowerSchool, you are limited to the regular letter grades and can't change it to other letters that your district may use for approaching/meeting/exceeding expectations, and the point system is only out of 10 points total.  So I tend to create my own online documents through Dropbox or Evernote to fit my needs in areas where PowerTeacher might not be the best choice.  The app is free, so definitely check it out especially if your school uses PowerSchool because it is so helpful to have everything sync automatically.  I also find it helpful to have access to student and parent information when I'm at home so I have it at my fingertips if needed. I just accessed it yesterday to see my new class list for 2012-2013 and was able to see their photos, get basic information about birthdays, and parent contact information.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the app if you use it and also any other apps or systems you use for grading.  I know we all don't like to give grades, but unfortunately we still have to since many of us have to input the scores into an online database and give report card grades three times a year.  So please share if you have any other tools or apps that you love to use!

Enjoy! :)

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